April 12, 2005

Law's honor a slap to victims

Macon Telegraph

Throughout all of the pomp and circumstance and ancient rituals surrounding Pope John Paul II's death and funeral, the Roman Catholic Church hardly hit a sour note - until Monday when the former archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, led one of the "mourning" masses for John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica. Cardinal Law was forced to resign his position in Boston after being at the epicenter of the sexual abuse scandal that is still rocking the American Catholic Church. The Boston diocese is said to have paid out at least $90 million in settlements to more than 500 victims of abuse.

Law was accused of moving priests guilty of abuse from parish to parish rather than punishing them, allowing their abusive ways to continue, sometimes for decades. Boston wasn't the only U.S. diocese rocked by the scandal. Across the country various dioceses paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle abuse claims. Last January, the diocese in Orange County, Ca., paid $100 million to settle abuse claims to 90 victims.

While Law is now archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, an administrative position, he left behind a diocese in Boston in obvious disarray and crippled by financial concerns. Last year, according to the Los Angeles Times, 82 parishes were closed or merged. Many American Catholics were outraged when Law was announced as one of the priests, the only American, given the honor of conducting a mourning mass. In each of the masses clues are sought from the homilies to see what the conclave of cardinals seeks in a new pope.

While Law's participation will probably have little effect abroad, it could have a devastating effect in the U.S. Rev. Keith Pecklers, a professor at the Georgian, a pontifical university in Rome, said in The New York Times, "It is yet another example of the gap between how the Vatican sees things and how the U.S. church sees things. This kind of thing can open wounds for people just when the healing was beginning."

Posted by kshaw at April 12, 2005 07:42 AM